At the end of the 2007 season, the Yankees were faced with an interesting predicament. The team wanted to improve, but at the same time, they wanted to re-sign star third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was going to opt out of his contract.
Rodriguez had made headlines during the final game of the 2007 World Series, announcing that he would invoke his opt-out clause, thus becoming a free agent.
Since A-Rod was coming off a season which would net him his third career MVP award, the Yankees knew that they had to act quickly if they wanted to keep him. There would obviously be other teams who – if they had the money – would push hard after the slugger. In the end, the Bombers did re-sign Rodriguez to the 10 year, $275 million albatross of a contract that is becoming so controversial today.
But the Yankees almost worked out a deal for somebody else.
During that offseason’s winter meetings, Brian Cashman would meet with executives from the Florida Marlins to discuss a trade for a player who was quickly becoming a rising star in baseball. This player in just a few years time, would be a perennial all-star, and a constant MVP candidate.
This player was none other than Miguel Cabrera.
Had the Yankees been able to acquire Cabrera, things would be much different in Gotham City right now.
The Marlins were asking for a package that revolved around either Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, or Ian Kennedy. Cashman was very reluctant to trade any of those three pitchers, as the Yankees thought that they would make up the core of the team in years to come. New Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, lobbied for the Yankees to bite the bullet and give the Marlins what they wanted. Girardi – who was the manager of the Marlins two years prior – had high praise for the young star. Unfortunately, Cashman remained adamant and refused to part with one of the three pitchers.
Cabrera was eventually traded later that offseason to the Detroit Tigers for players who would really not help the Marlins at all.
But imagine for a second what would happen if the Yankees did get Cabrera.
Assuming they parted with Ian Kennedy, the Yankees may not have been able to complete the three-team trade that brought them Curtis Granderson back in 2010. Because of that, they would have likely kept Austin Jackson, who has blossomed into a solid player for the Tigers.
Then of course, the Yankees would not have re-signed Rodriguez to that mega-contract. They would have used their money elsewhere, such as locking up Cabrera long-term. They would also not have to deal with the drama that came with Rodriguez — such as the multiple discoveries of PED usage. The Yankees would be able to have a young third baseman, who could have possibly become a cornerstone for the franchise.
It is so very easy to say that hindsight is 20/20, but this is a move that the Yankees must really regret refusing to make. It definitely serves as an unfortunate “black mark” on the otherwise great tenure of Brian Cashman.